Sunday, March 6, 2011

Debt Be Not Proud

"The strength of a nation derives from the integrity of the home."
Perhaps we should have realized the extent of the problem when we woke up last Thanksgiving to a house bereft of heat.

The oil tank was dry, so we called the fuel company for an emergency delivery. Little did we know that replenishing the oil would be a stop-gap, nothing more. The signs were there, if only we had been looking for them. In the next two months, we filled the house’s 275-gallon oil tank three times, which was unusual, even considering how cold this winter had been. Call it a classic case of denial.

Say hello to our new boiler: the Peerless WBV.

A final event brought the situation into painful clarity. We woke up to a house filled with fumes and a boiler bleeding water all over the basement floor. The smoke alarm pierced the morning like a nasal ambulance siren.

After 17 years, our tired oil boiler suffered a massive mechanical coronary and expired. The final expenses for sending our dearly departed heater to its resting place and replacing it with a newer model was $7000. Naturally, there were tears. We could only hope that when one sooty door closed, another cleaner one would open. Our old 60%-efficient oil boiler was being replaced with an 85%-efficient boiler, which promised to use less oil than its predecessor. (Ha! See Internet article below in gray for that one.)

When mortality strikes, there is a tendency to flash back to all the times you’ve spent together. We had brought this boiler into our home shortly after we moved in. It was our first major expense. Just as it had temporarily impoverished us then, it was doing so now, but to a greater extent. It was hard not to have a lump in your throat thinking about it.
"There is nothing like staying at home for real comfort."
Jane Austen

Of course, we will move on. That’s the way life is. Yesterday, the contractor installed a new oil boiler. Today, we discovered that our water-softening system is not working. We are bracing ourselves. They say these things usually come in threes.

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